Steve Salitan’s New York Times crossword
Nice triple stacks with smooth crossings, but some of what comes between the 15s is less elegant. I CANNOT TELL A LIE is fun, “MONEY FOR NOTHING” is a good song (though its F-word certainly has worn very poorly since the early ’80s), PRIVATE ENTRANCE is solid, ONE-CELLED ANIMAL is plain old science, CALCULATING MIND is fun, and while ANTIPERSPIRANTS are rather … dry, I like the brand-name clue, [Sure things]. Among the stacks’s crossings, I’m partial to Diana NYAD, ballet TOE SHOES, TREMORS clued as [No great shakes], TAPIOCA, HAMLETS, and Justice BRENNAN.
I like “WHO IS?” clued as a question in [Response to “Hey, I’m not perfect”], and as a child of ’80s music (see above), I like 28d: [Cellulose fiber brand] ARNEL because Arnel Pineda is the name of the sounds-just-like-Steve-Perry lead singer Journey has now. (He’s the Filipino guy the band found via his YouTube covers of Journey songs.)
Not fond of [Turkey __, slugger in the Baseball Hall of Fame]; is Turkey STEARNES actually famous? Such an unusual spelling of the name, too, which makes that a tough entry for non-HOF-obsessives. Haven’t seen ABRI, the [Shelter-providing dugout], for a while; old crosswordese. ENURE gets a [Toughen: Var.] clue with the dreaded “variant” tag. I did not know you could have plural ENNUIS, though its neighboring LOTTS at least is clued as an actual family of Lotts.
Peter A. Collins’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Andy’s Review
Hi all! I’m Andy Kravis! For those who don’t know me, I’m a third-year law student, a regular solver, and an avid reader of this blog. I’m psyched to announce that I’m joining Team Fiend as the Saturday LAT blogger! And seeing as today is Saturday (and, indeed, the LAT decided once again to publish a crossword today), it looks like I’m up.
This was a breezy yet Scrabbly Saturday puzzle. (Pangrammatic? No, looks like there’s no V.) Plunked down PATISSERIE [Seller of beignets and éclairs] at 1-Across and never looked back. ARNO, SUN, INRE, and ESSES gave me the the somewhat-awkwardly-clued DRAGQUEENS [Men in dress clothes?]. A topical entry for me, given that I’ve been reading up on drag and gender-nonconforming modes of dress for a Queer Legal Theory seminar I’m taking, including a fascinating piece by Kelly Kleiman comparing drag to blackface, and one by Bennett Capers considering the bias-revealing power of imagining criminal defendants in different garb. Sorry for the editorializing, but as they say: You mess with the bull, you get queer theory.
Moving right along, the NW fell pretty swiftly, as did the center. Alaska may not have a KMART, but it does have a Walmart. Fellow law students should have recognized the YAZOO land crisis from a little case called Fletcher v. Peck, the Z from which makes BAZAAR a gimme. TOGOUT was new to me — I kept wanting it to be “tog(ged) up.” Is this phrase in any of your lexica?
Swiftly down into the SE, where LORRE and TERN gave that corner some gluey crosswordese. Surprised not to see TROP clued as the French word, but given that the constructor is Peter Collins, also not surprised to see a baseball clue in LIEU of that [Rays’ home field, familiarly, with “The”]. Loved the HOLYTERROR/SPEEDDEMON stack, especially with the tricky clue for the latter [One with a passing interest?].
Backed my way into the SW, where TEaTOTALER was a gimme. What’s that, you say? It’s TEETOTALER? Huh. Who knew that the “tee” in “teetotaler” comes from the letter T and not the beverage tea? Not I, that’s who. Eventually got that straightened up with some good ol’ pecan PIE, and got out of that corner. Then, in the NE, JEM Finch took some URANIUMORE from a DISTRACTED scientist (Bill NYE, maybe?). He is, to my knowledge, still ONTHELOOSE.
I had a good time solving this sucker. The mini-theme with the two symmetrical SQU- entries (SQUEAKYCLEAN and SQUAREDANCED) was a cute bonus. Some of the short fill was… not my favorite (see, e.g., TANA [Ethiopia’s largest lake], EDE [City East of Utrecht], SOARE, clued as well as possible at least [“___ they all, all honorable men”: “Julius Caesar”], the crosswordese bird cousins ERNE & TERN, and the aforementioned TOGOUT), but the other fill was mostly unobjectionable.
3.75 stars from me. See you all next week!
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Beheadings” – Sam Donaldson’s review
In cryptic puzzles, “beheadings” refers to words that have lost their initial letters. In this puzzle, though, BE- has been added to the start of five common terms. So we have “BE-headings,” so to speak. Here are your theme entries:
- 16-Across: An inevitability we all fear, “rate hikes,” becomes BERATE HIKES, to [Put down long walks?].
- 23-Across: Another fear, a “foreclosure,” turns into BEFORE CLOSURE, clued as [Prior to a final resolution?]. This one’s inconsistent with the others in the sense that it turns one word into two words. Whether that’s bad is up to the reader.
- 35-Across: The jazz standard, Tiger Rag, also known as Hold That Tiger, changes here to BEHOLD THAT TIGER, clued as [“Get a load of the big cat over there!”]. Interesting how the usual “?” assigned to the end of a theme clue in a wordplay puzzle is missing here.
- 46-Across: Why just “set the stage” when you can BESET THE STAGE and be known as one who [Caused trouble for Broadway?]? See? Double punctuation isn’t all that hard.
- 57-Across: It’s one thing to “come clean,” but it’s just as important to BECOME CLEAN, like say, [Take a shower, e.g.?].
The section that slowed me down today was all around the [Hot month in Marseilles]. French and I have a tepid working relationship on our best days, so if it ain’t ETE, I’m out. I needed a lot of crossings to get both BEFORE CLOSURE and BEHOLD THAT TIGER, so it wasn’t like the entries immediately surrounding the French month were gimmes for me. Eventually, though, I got AOUT.
I know I’ve seen AOUT in crosswords before, and I know I’ll see it again. And I get the whole three-vowels-in-four-letters thing makes it much more attractive than it should be. But it’s just not attractive, no matter how much we might wish it so. You know when you have to rationalize your attraction to the person you just started dating? Yeah, he’s got a bunch of cold sores, but they really make his teeth look so white. There, as here, you have to know it’s better simply to stop it. C’mon people, we don’t have to rationalize AOUT. It’s ugly, we know it, and if we let it happen without saying anything, it, like the cold sores, will just come back. Let’s just agree to stop it.
But I digress.
Highlights in the fill here include LET OFF, DISMOUNT, BAD AT, RASCAL, and DR. NO. One I certainly can’t include in the list, though, is LIFTABLE, [Like carry-on luggage]. Two problems with that: (1) who in blazes says “liftable?” No, grandma, let me get the heavy suitcase and you take this lighter one. It’s more liftable. (2) As a somewhat-frequent flyer, I can tell you first-hand that too many people with carry-on bags cannot in fact lift them into the overhead bins. The guilty parties, of course, are the airlines imposing bag fees, not the passengers. What I blame passengers for is throwing small stuff like purses, scarves, and small bags into the overhead bins while never making use of the space underneath the seat in front. Those people suck! If I was an air marshal, I’d haul them off the flight and revoke their flying privileges for one year. The overhead bins are for the larger things, people. Harumph.
Man, I’m cranky today. So while I’m at it, I guess, one more thing. [“It’s clear, bro”] is the clue for I DIG. Come again? It’s clear, you say? Should that be “cool?” And while we’re here…bro? I would think “cat” or “man” would be a little more apt for the intended vibe. Now get off my lawn!
Favorite entry = BIRDBATHS, the [Robins’ rest stops]. Favorite clue = [Greets the visiting team] for BOOS. Not a lot of great clues from which to choose a favorite, I must say, but this one works well to my ear.
Lester Ruff (aka Stan Newman)’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
I am out of time for blogging! Oh, no! We’re meeting Evad and his crew for brunch in 57 minutes, and I need to shower as well as walk to the restaurant, and it’s about 20 minutes away.
Glad to see CB RADIOS clued as a retro thing, which they pretty much are. Do truckers still use them?
This 72-worder is pretty smooth. SASSAFRAS makes a nice bottom-row answer–lots of S’s, yesss, but zero E’s or NTLRD’s.
Seeing ED MEESE made me laugh because of what Matt Gaffney wrote about that political crosswordese name in his recent Politico essay.
Four stars. Over and out. 10-4, good buddy.